The Role of ELCA Pastors in Care of the Earth
Stewardship of the Earth: The people of God are called to the care and redemption of all that God has made. This includes the need to speak on behalf of this earth, its environment and natural resources and its inhabitants. This church expects that its ordained ministers will be exemplary stewards of the earth’s resources, and that they will lead this church in the stewardship of God’s creation.
—From Vision and Expectations for Ordained Clergy of the ELCA.
“Tell the truth about the ecological state of the world
So discipline yourself in life and teaching that you preserve the truth, giving no occasion for false security or illusory hope.”
—From the ELCA Ordination Service. Bishop’s address to the newly ordained.
1. Be informed. Make it part of your continuing education and professional reading to be informed about the ecological state of the world and about theological, ethical, spiritual and practical resources to address caring for creation in your congregation.
2. Be a Spokesperson. As leader of the congregation, you can speak out and create an ethos that caring for creation is an important and integral part of the ministry of the congregation. Through sermons, newsletters, bulletins, and announcements, you can generate interest and awareness.
3. Become a Creation Care congregation. Spearhead and/or support efforts to become a Creation-Care congregation by making care for creation a part of the mission statement and visionary goals of the congregation. Establish an Earth-keeping team/committee. For steps to accomplish this, see the Self Organizing Kit for congregations here.
4. Support your Creation Care team. If a green team already exists, support their efforts and projects. Encourage your staff, the church council, and committee chairs to be aware of the importance of creation care in their work and to respond cooperatively to the work of the Green team. For example, promote efforts to incorporate creation care into the worship planning (see the site we sponsor at www.letallcreationpraise.org) or promote efforts to lower energy use and carbon footprint.
5. Be a model. Model creation care in your personal and family life (http://www.letallcreationpraise.org/covenant-with-creation). Green your church office (https://www.lutheransrestoringcreation.org/greening-your-smo-office).
6. Encourage others. Encourage members to live out commitments to care for creation in their homes and work.
7. Witness in church and society. Promote creation care in the life and witness of the synod. Witness to our church’s commitments your local community.
8. Pastoral care. Guard creation care efforts so that they are done out of a rootedness in the gospel of grace and the presence of God’s love in all creation. Support people who are impacted or become disheartened by ecological crises.
Lutherans Restoring Creation has resources for all these actions and initiatives. We stand ready to assist you in any way we can.